With more than 340 murders recorded for the year thus far, one criminologist is concerned that the murder rate is now out of control.
Dr Wendell Wallace said yesterday that statistics show there were fewer murders recorded for the same period last year. At that time, the murder rate was 227.
“In all jurisdictions in the world, we have crimes. And, at some point in time, we must make that distinction and that determination that crime is out of control, and more likely than not, people base that on murder statistics. And at this point in time, for my good self, I think that the murders especially, out of control,” Dr Wallace said.
“When I look at the crime statistics for Trinidad and Tobago over the years, it appears that the other typologies of crime either constant or reducing, but the murders, I think when I compare the murders for the period last year, as against the period up to yesterday, I think we have a higher number for this year,” Dr Wallace added.
The criminologist, who was speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew programme, also expressed concern that criminals are now more brazen, since they are no longer hiding under the cover of night and are carrying out attacks in public places and during broad daylight.
He suggested increasing a police presence, a measure the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service continues to assure is taking place.
However, Wallace recalled, “Back in the mid-1990s in Port-of-Spain, there was something known as the Mid-Town Patrol Branch, and on almost every corner in Port-of-Spain, you would see at least two police officers. At that point in time, Port-of-Spain was ranked as one of the safest capitals in the world. Now, Port-of-Spain is not one of the safest capitals in the world.”
“Recently, a vendor was killed in broad daylight in Port-of-Spain. Where are the police officers? I certainly am not seeing them. Police officers in uniform and police officers in plainclothes, they serve a different purpose. If you want to deter criminal activities, if you want to deter deviance, you really need to see the presence of uniformed police officers in our cities,” Dr Wallace added.
Over the weekend, Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob lamented that illegal guns remain a challenge for law enforcement officers.
Asked whether an amnesty versus a reward system for the retrieval of illegal guns will help, Wallace said he believes they both will yield minor returns. This, he said, has been proven before.
“Some of the criminals will tell you, if I were to give up my firearm is like giving up my tool of trade, I’ll be a target for fellow criminals. What happens is that the amnesty programme generally works with terrorist-related offences. For example, in Colombia, the terrorists actually became fed up of that type of lifestyle and they decided to abandon the terrorist lifestyle and give up their firearms,” Wallace explained.
He suggested digging deeper to find the root causes of crime in society.